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A stroll around the neighbourhoods of Madrid

Madrid stands out for its many different neighbourhoods. Each area has its own attractions, identity and, even, lifestyle that cannot be found in the rest of the city.

See it for yourself!

Route 1: Madrid of Los Austrias

Narrow, winding streets, sombre palaces and convents hidden behind walls are the elements that can still be found in Hapsburg Madrid. Visitors will be able to trace the footprints of the old capital between the Cuesta de la Vega and the Plaza Mayor - the heart of the city. It was not a grand city. The humble buildings, lack of urban planning and high number of churches surprised foreign ambassadors and reporters. The Citadel, where the Royal Palace stands today, was located to the far west. The imperial government of vast swathes of the globe was housed in the immense complex destroyed by fire in 1737.

Los Austrias neighbourhood is one of Madrid's most emblematic areas, where culture and a fun time are guaranteed.

Stroll around the streets, buildings and squares of Baroque Madrid which saw the rise and fall of the Hapsburg dynasty.


  • Plaza de la Provincia: A former royal prison that is today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Plaza Mayor.
  • Plaza de la Puerta Cerrada and the origin of the city's coat-of-arms.
  • Las Carboneras Cloistered Convent in Plaza del Conde de Miranda (entry to the church).
  • Plaza de la Villa, Home and Tower of the Lujanes, Casa de Cisneros Palace and former Town Hall of Madrid.
  • Calle Mayor Street, Palace of the Duke of Uceda and a visit to the remains of the old church of Santa María.
  • Plaza Oriente, façade of the Royal Palace and statue of Philip IV.
  • Huerto de las monjas hidden garden (17th century), military church and age-old establishments in Calle Cuchilleros Street.

Route 2: Literary Madrid

This route is named in honour of the writers, painters, musicians, scientists, architects, actors and politicians who lived in this area of Madrid.

The verses of Don Juan Tenorio accompany visitors on their stroll along Calle de las Huertas Street, with fragments from different authors of the period engraved on the pavement.

Travel around the Literary Quarter, the narrow streets with low houses, gateways, cloistered convents and emblematic churches such as San Sebastián. Visitors can get to know the restless neighbourhood that Cervantes, Quevedo and Góngora once called home.


  • Callejón del Gato: Valle Inclán and “Bohemian Lights”.
  • Plaza de Santa Ana, monuments to Calderón de la Barca and Lorca, and the former open-air theatre Corral de Comedias now the home of the Teatro Español Theatre.
  • Calle de las Huertas Street.
  • Church of San Sebastián.
  • Calle León Street and the now defunct Mentidero de los artistas [Artist Talking Shop].
  • Plaza de Jesús.
  • Calle Lope de Vega Street and Las Trinitarias Cloistered Convent.
  • Calle Quevedo Street and the façade of the house where he lived.
  • Calle Cervantes Street and the façade of the home of Lope de Vega.
  • Monument to Cervantes in Plaza de las Cortes.

Route 3: Royal Palace and Crypt of La Almudena

Royal Palace

The royal residence from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, the Royal Palace of Madrid offers a journey through Spanish history. Although the current monarchs do not live there, the palace is the official royal residence.

Far before Madrid was the capital of Spain, Emir Mohammad I built a citadel in Magerit (the Arabic name of the city) to defend Toledo from the advance of the Christians. The building was temporarily used by the monarch of Castile until the 14th century when it was transformed into what would be known as the Antiguo Alcázar (Former Citadel). Charles I and his son Philip II converted the fortress into the permanent royal residence. However, fire tore through the building in 1734 and Philip V ordered the current palace be built on top of its remains.

Originally commissioned to Filippo Juvara, it was his pupil, Juan Bautista Sachetti, who designed the definitive plans after the death of his teacher. It took 17 years from the first stone being laid in 1738 to work being finished on the palace ordered by Philip V. Charles III - nicknamed the 'best mayor of Madrid' thanks to the huge amount of reforms and initiatives he sponsored in the city - was the first king to live in the palace and who commissioned the final décor. His successors, Charles IV (who commissioned the Hall of Mirrors) and Ferdinand VII added to the décor with clocks, furniture, chandeliers and candelabras.

The building was inspired by the sketches done by Bernini to build the Louvre in Paris. It is built around a square courtyard and houses a gallery and parade ground, where the main façade of the palace is located. Both the décor in each room and the layout have changed over the years, adapting to the needs of its royal residents.

The over 3,000 rooms in the Royal Palace of Madrid include the Main Staircase, designed by Sabatini and with over 70 steps, the Throne Room, with a ceiling painted by Tiepolo, the Halberdiers Room, a personal space of Charles III, the small Gasparini room, with intricate décor based on a plant motif, the Royal Apothecary, with porcelain bottles by La Granja, and the Royal Chapel, home to a collection of string instruments made by the mythical Antonio Stradivari.

Crypt of La Almudena

The crypt is located right below La Almudena Cathedral and was designed by Francisco de Cubas. The entrance is on Calle Mayor Street, at the beginning of the Cuesta de la Vega.

The crypt is neo-Romanesque in style with Byzantine flourishes. Highlights include the 558 sumptuous columns, especially the fifty monolith columns (made from a single piece of stone) in the nave and transept which stand out for their size (3.28 m high and 2.20 m wide) and the quality of the stone. The ornamentation at the foot of each column stands out (used to fill in the blind spot between the round and square bases) as do the capitals for their intricate sculpting, size (80 cm x 1 m) and unique nature despite their being nearly 600 in total.

The floorplan is a Roman cross and the nave has intercolumniation to form two very narrow side naves and a further two standard-size side naves. Around 16,000 m3 of stone from Chao de Maças (Portugal) were used to build the crypt.

Irene recommends

Irene recommends

Plaza Mayor Tourism Centre

Visitors coming to Madrid should head to the Tourism Centre at Plaza Mayor, 27. This modern centre is open every day from 9:30 am to 8:30 pm and located in the Casa de la Panadería, where visitors can discover what the capital has to offer in terms of culture and leisure, as well as get any information they may need.

In addition, they can purchase souvenirs from the city, freely consult the website, pick up a copy of the esMADRID magazine or book guided tours or routes for those with disabilities from the Official Guided Tours programme.

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